"How does this table help you better understand the lives of the mill girls?" This was a question I asked my third-grade students after they read an article about factory girls in the nineteenth century. My students read the article and understood the life of factory girls wasn't easy, but when confronted with the task of using the table in the article to respond to my question, they were stumped.
The Common Core standards encourage students to ask and respond to questions to demonstrate their understanding of text. The new standards for learning also encourage the use of text features to locate information and the use of illustrations to demonstrate understanding. According to the Connecticut Common Core, Standard RI.3.7, "Students should be able to use information gained from illustrations (including graphs, maps, charts etc.,) and the words to demonstrate understanding of the text." The New Haven Literacy Curriculum provides a vast amount of resources for teaching text features such as lessons on what text features are and how to use them. However, there aren't many lessons simply focused on using these features in order to respond to open-ended questions or to deepen students' understanding of the text.
As an inner city educator serving at a one-time Tier 4 turnaround school, I feel a sense of urgency that this missing component of the curriculum be explored. Although my inter-district magnet school has made substantial gains and is currently a Tier 2 school, there is a large student population that still struggles academically, specifically with literacy. I often modify assignments and assessments to accommodate students' skill levels and abilities. Differentiation is a common classroom practice because in order to teach each learner, I have to reach each learner. Students desperately need another skill or strategy to help them read and comprehend text across content areas. I hope and anticipate that students after doing this unit will be able to make inferences and connections between words and images.
This curriculum unit consists of lessons that will teach students about the relationship of image and text. Once students have an understanding of the relationship of picture and words they will be able to use images as an aid to comprehending fiction and nonfiction text. This unit will serve as a means to enhance their reading skills, in order to comprehend complex text across content areas.
Students will make sense of what they are seeing, as they read or view graphs, charts and maps. As a result, students will have a strategy to respond to higher level thinking questions in alignment with Common Core Standards.